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u3a Botany Group - Loch of Ayre - 21 May, 2024

by Merryn Dineley - 15:24 on 05 June 2024


A botanical walk around Loch of Ayre, St Mary’s, Holm May 21st 2024

On a cool, misty spring afternoon in St Mary’s, Holm, thirteen botanists met for a walk around the Loch of Ayre. We parked at the Community Centre and walked down to the car park by the loch, a great spot for a variety of wildflowers as well as a large clump of flowering rhubarb. The group scattered in all directions. Almost immediately shouts could be heard as plants were being identified. I tried to write everything down and maybe missed a few: red campion, common scurvy grass, orache, creeping nettle, ribwort plantain (in flower), thrift, sea plantain, hogweed, cow parsley, silverweed, hairy bittercress, monbretia (a garden escapee?), bush vetch, meadow vetchling and bluebells.

Crossing the bridge over the stream we saw that many small trees have been planted recently, among them were Rowan, Balfour Willow, Beech and Sycamore. Quite a few ladies smock, aka cuckoo flower, were dotted around in the grass together with creeping thistle, mousear, pineapple weed, broad leaf plantain and a few teasels that were just beginning to come into leaf. A marsh orchid was spotted. The bright yellow flowers of lesser celandine and marsh marigold could be seen at the water’s edge. One of the group spotted a few small pennywort, almost hidden in the grass. As we walked into Gerry’s Wood there were large numbers of field horsetail and marsh horsetail as well as a couple of magnificent marsh thistles, just about to flower, and leaves of flag iris and meadowsweet.

In the woods we met Evelyn who told us that she and her husband Gerry began planting the woodland 40 years ago. This explains the mature trees. We saw flowering Alder and Rowan, Willow, Aspen, Downy Birch, Hazel, Larch and Juniper. Coming out of the woods there were cowslips, primroses, a fine patch of yellow rattle, knapweed, bush vetch beginning to flower, common mousear, meadow buttercup and sweet vernal grass. As we came out of the woods on our way back to the carpark there was a sight I have never seen before: a bunch of botanists peering through binoculars. We scanned the field, now mostly full of dandelion seed heads and buttercups, but the more we looked, the more we saw: corn spurry, changing forget me not, mousear and common cotton grass were identified.

Our time was running out and we noted both garden flowers and wild flowers on the way back by the main road: red campion, sweet cicely, bugle, comfrey, aquilegia, waterdock, dames violet and groundsel. Were the seeds windblown from nearby gardens or have these been planted? There was some discussion and then it was time to make our way home.


Marsh Thistle


                             Horsetail and Flag Iris


Changing Forget-me-not

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